Race Report: Emerson's 3 Peaks Enduro 2021

Mar 16, 2021
by Kane Fleury  
The Emerson s 3 Peaks Women s Champ for 2021 Jenna Hastings.
2021 Womens 3 Peaks Enduro Champ, Jenna Hastings

Emerson's 3 Peaks Enduro
Words // Kane Fleury
Photography // Jemma Wells and Kane Fleury

New Zealand is in a fortunate situation with the way in which our government has dealt with the global pandemic. It has not come without its uncertainty for hosting events and even before this event it was looking 50/50 if it could go ahead. Lucky for us, the week before the Auckland based lockdown and the restrictions on having events larger than 100 people across the country was lifted. This was following another outbreak of COVID in the community but lucky for us it was contained. We had few restrictions for the race other than recording all the participants and trying to keep the competitors from Auckland from kissing everyone.

This meant that the 9th annual Emerson’s 3 Peaks Enduro got the go-ahead as planned and what a weekend it was. The racing was held across the city using the developing trail network of Whare Flat, the new climbing trail to the top of the Nicols Creek downhill down line and Signal Hill and there was a stacked field across the men's and women's categories. The weeks prior to the event had dusty dry conditions but some mid-week rain meant that the conditions when race day arrived were all-time and loamy.

Josh Van Geffen deep in the last stretch of Evil Shenanigans there s a reason this section of trail also has a ride around option.
Loamy goodness and all-time dirt conditions at Whare Flat.

Day 1 - Whare Flat and Nicols Creek

Saturday's racing started in a scenic park in the heart of the student quarter. The sun was out and the day was starting to heat up. The riders received their compulsory race briefing by race director and ex-xc-olympian Kashi Leuchs then they jumped on a shuttle and were driven out to start the race at Whare Flat. There were 5 short stages at Whare Flat which were through loamy, rooty pine forest with several new bits of trail to sample and multiple new unraced trails. The freshest of these was only just finished the night before Friday’s practice.

Kashi Leuchs briefs riders before day one of the Emerson s 3 Peaks Enduro.
The head honcho and brainchild of the Emerson's 3 Peaks Enduro, Kashi Leuchs.

Once loam-filled this final corner on Eighties Bush was soon begging for a foot out approach.
Once loam-filled, this final corner on 'Eighties Bush' was soon begging for a foot out approach.
The race line continued creeping wider and wider all day as the field moved through Eightie s Bush .
The race line continued creeping wider and wider.

Tony Reddish drops into Stage One of Day One Coronation Street in the Emerson s 3 Peaks Enduro.
Tony Reddish drops into Stage One of Day One, 'Coronation Street' at Whare Flat.

Jess must have been thinking of the deep greens of Tin Man when picking her Day One apparel.
Jess Blewitt from Christchurch matching her riding kit to the deep greens of 'Tin Man'.

A hearty liaison over Swampy Summit proved hot but scenic in the midst of day one s stages.
The climb up and out of Whare Flat to the final stage of the day had some elevation to gain.

Riders head for Stage 6 the final stage of Day One in the Emerson s 3 Peaks Enduro.
Lucky for everyone at the top there are great views on the ridge above the city of Dunedin en route to the people's favourite track in Nicols Creek.

After 5 stages amongst the pine forest, the riders headed up past a feed station to grab some more water and a bit of tucker then started the grind up and over the top of the ridge that looks out over the city to everybody’s favourite stage in Nicols Creek. If you have not ridden Nicols Creek before it is arguably one of the best trails in the country for its grade with enough spice to keep any seasoned rider on their toes but mellow enough to have a cracking time on the rough, steep, rooty single track in native bush. Once riders had made it down to the bottom of the stage they had a pleasant coast down through Leith valley back to the gardens where the race began to get stuck into some of the locally produced Emerson’s beers and some burgers to fill those empty stomachs.

Local sender Sam P descends the final hurdle on the Nicols Enduro trail.
Local sender Sam Paris on the final chute of the Nicols Creek track.

The competition is not as obvious on day 1 with the trails spread out over quite a distance but after the overall times were released on Saturday night it was obvious that Sunday was gonna be a heater of a race. Charlie Murray, last years overall winner was in first place with a total elapsed time of 21:20 was in front of Cole Lucas by 8 seconds (total time 21:2Cool and was in front of Keegan Wright by 51 seconds (total time 22:11). In the womens overall event, Jenna Hastings had entered the Novice Women category (age 15-17) from Rotorua had a steaming hot day taking the preliminary lead with a total time of 25:31. Robin Goomes was running close behind with a time of 25:35 and Raewyn Morrison in third with a time of 26:29. The results were close and the game was set for an exciting second day of racing in Dunedin.

Charlie Murray finishes on top after Day One of the Emerson s 3 Peaks Enduro
Charlie Murray, last years overall winner of the race finishing up in the top spot after day 1.

Snacks and hydration were a welcome sight after a tough Day One of the Emerson s 3 Peaks Enduro.
Is there any better way to finish a day racing than with some yarns, a beer or two and a burger. I think not!

Day 2 - Signal Hill

Signal Hill awaiting the sun to show its face. All of day 2 racing is on this hill in the middle of the city.
A new day dawns over the city of Dunedin as the riders prep their breakfasts ready for 3 stages on Signal Hill.

A classic Blue Bird day dawned in Dunedin as the low cloud lifted the chatter at the start line was of how good the weather and the trail conditions were. Things were set for three exciting laps of the classic trails down Signal Hill. Despite this venue being the “old favourite” in town, the local lads managed to open up an old trail that was lost during a logging operation to provide some fresh trail. This venue offers up challenging riding to those who are not used to battling rocks and running high pressures to prevent rims been smashed to bits. This years course had less lung burning pinch climbs that in the past but otherwise was filled with tracks that provided enough spectating for the punters and those first to finish the race.

Signal Hill can be rough on bikes and gear, you'll find hardly any of the locals rocking carbon rims. The course took its toll on wheels and Rae Morrison suffered a wrecked wheel on the second stage of the day causing a significant loss of time.

After a decent crash earlier on the stage Sam Shaw sheds some claret on the lower stages of Quarry Track.
Samual Shaw had one of the few injuries over the weekend. He had a whoopsie in on of the rock gardens and took a pointy rock to the face. You can see in this photo some of the blood still coming out of his nose as he finished the stage.

Kalani Muirhead drops into the rim eating rocks that are scattered across the hill, this young pinner is one to watch over the coming years.

Mat Wright shows how to keep things under control down 'Orange Roughy'.
Now synonymous with breaking bikes and party shirts Jacob Wahry shows his true colours on Orange Roughy .
Jacob Wahry leans it over on a smooth section of 'Orange Roughy'.

Kegan Wright launches over a rootball on the 'Moustache Express' even without overseas riders the field was stacked with fast kiwis.

Local trail builder Mathew Mark is no slouch on a bike and will be back out on the hills after the race chasing down any Strava KOMs that he has lost over the weekend.

Riders fear a wet race in Dunedin but lucky for them it was dusty dry across most of the city for the race.

Big whips over the table to finish the weekend from Queenstown local Criag Munro.
Big whips over the finishing jump were a treat to behold as the elite riders started to roll into the finishing arena.

Charlie Murray showed the diversity and consistency of his skill as a rider and continued his domination of the Emerson’s 3 Peaks Enduro taking the win over Cole Lucas by over 10 seconds, there was a bit of a battle happening further down the ranks with Daniel Self taking third place over Keegan Wright. The racing and the skills on display from most of the field was impressive. What amazing after seeing multiple of these events was the lack of injuries that happened despite the dry, fast conditions. What a weekend to race bikes.

Charlie Murray rolling through buffed berms on the first stage of day 2.
The fastest man of the weekend, Charlie Murray
The Emerson s 3 Peaks Women s Champ for 2021 Jenna Hastings.
The fastest woman of the weekend, young Jenna Hastings from Rotorua.

The womans champ of the weekend was Jenna Hastings who dominated the Dunedin tracks and took the win with an overall time of 37.47. In second place was Robin Goomes and in third was Kathy Morris.

Prize giving and a lack of social distancing. A real social sunny treat.
Great to see so many friendly faces in all one spot.

An epic fan girl moment as locals take an opportunity to get a photo with a bunch of some of the fastest kiwi ladies on two wheels.
An epic fan girl moment for young local Erin Hasler who had all the elite women sign her photo and pose for a photo after the race. This is why bike races are so good.

To top off the weekend the ultimate spot prize this year was a Yeti frame with the winner decided by coin toss! Is there any better way to wind up a weekend of riding bikes than a game of chance?

The boys get stuck into some the best part of having Emerson s Brewery as the naming sponsor of the race.
Until next time!

Overall results can be found on the event Facebook page here:


  • 2 0
 Great write up Kane. "The freshest of these was only just finished the night before Friday’s practice" .... True Story. That trail, called Te Ara Horoeka, went right down to the wire. Fah-reeesh!
  • 2 0
 Thats a cracker name for that trail too!
  • 5 1
 I'm sick of hearing how great NZ is!
  • 11 0
 Seems like someone’s being a bit of a mad fella about it
  • 2 0
 Sorry about that :-)
  • 3 0
 bloody good article and pics Kane!
  • 2 0
 Interesting Charlies riding a Status not an enduro.
  • 2 0
 Borrowed off dave McMillan says Insta.
  • 3 0
 Great write up!
  • 1 0
 2nd in Women’s is Robin Goomes, not Robin Groomes!
  • 1 0
 Thanks mate for pointing that out. That was a mistake on my behalf. Got it fixed up so it is right now.
  • 1 0
 Well it's pretty good
  • 1 0

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